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Silicone-coated release liner recycled for first time: Continuous cycle is the goal

•·         HERMA becomes first in the industry to achieve genuine recycling of silicone-coated release liner.

•·         Cycle4green and Lenzing Papier recycle it to produce high-quality label paper and new release liner.

•·         Around 250,000 metric tons of waste could be eliminated across Europe.

From waste liner to new liner: HERMA has become the first self-adhesive material manufacturer in the world to recycle used silicone-coated release liner in a practically waste-free process - and is encouraging its customers to join the scheme. The Filderstadt company is working closely together with Cycle4green, which in 2009 developed a special process for separating silicone. Austrian paper producer Lenzing, which has vast experience in paper recycling, uses the waste liner for fine and specialty paper products. The quality is no different from that of pulp-based products. The former release liner is used in the production of high-quality label paper and new release liner. "This initiative brings us closer to implementing the cradle to cradle principle of using materials in a more or less continuous cycle," insists Dr. Thomas Baumgärtner, managing director of HERMA. The recycling practices predominantly adopted thus far with paper and plastic, he says, are more akin to downcycling because the quality of the new products is usually significantly reduced. And silicone-coated paper has simply not been reprocessed at all in the past. According to Baumgärtner, "It's very regrettable, because this glassine paper is a very high-quality and high-performance material."

Enormous potential

HERMA is now feeding around 100 tons of silicone-coated paper a year into this genuine recycling process. According to Cycle4green, around 250,000 tons of silicone-coated paper waste is generated throughout Europe each year. By far the largest portion is attributable to label printers and, in particular, end-users. Subject to a minimum quantity of five metric tons, Cycle4green collects the material free of charge at source anywhere in Europe. The only condition it applies is that the waste must be properly sorted. "From our perspective, it is a compelling approach that makes good ecological and economic sense. It conserves precious resources and avoids a considerable quantity of waste. And the more companies that take part, the greater the benefit will be," explains Baumgärtner. "As far as possible, therefore, we are also encouraging our customers to join the initiative - and they are responding very favourably."